“Sir Guy’s Dilemma”, Ch. 22 (PG-13)–Betrothal Bridal Brinksmanship, Part 2, March 01, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #371)
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[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Sir Guy, Clive Standen as Lord Archer, Emma Watson as Lady Rose, and James McAvoy as Lord George, etc.]
[Story Logo 1ab]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Sir Guy’s Dilemma” is a story of romance and intrigue set amidst Medieval times. As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes (R rated) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments. I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to some mature situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read the chapters with those labels. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Recap from the previous installment: The mixed up betrothal pairs revealed themselves and their true loves to each other, and eventually their families at dinner–to some dismay, including Sir Guy’s
“Sir Guy’s Dilemma”, Ch. 22 (PG-13)–Betrothal Bridal Brinksmanship, Part 2
After tempers cooled that fateful night when the true love matches were revealed–Lord Archer with Lady Saline, and Lord George with Lady Mary–the families come together to accept this new reality as the double weddings planning goes forward. Even Sir Guy has begrudgingly given his blessing, though he is still worried about what Prince John might say or do in possibly thwarting the new betrothals.
Several stratagems were put forth by the men in Sir Guy’s study and by the ladies in Lady Roseanna’s large parlor. Ultimately, when the men joined the ladies in the parlor, they also joined forces. The first salvo to Prince John is to be a missive of thanks from Sir Guy and Lady Roseanna for Prince John’s royal decree legitimizing Seth as Sir Guy’s first born son and titular heir.
Sir Guy and Lady Roseanna also invite Prince John to join the family the week before the double weddings en famille–the goal being to encourage Prince John to respond to the new betrothal requests as a cousin might–rather than as a scheming weasel of a sovereign in waiting. But of course, they veil their invitation to Prince John and make no mention of vermin.
Part of their strategem is for the men–Sir Guy, the Lords Talkington and Havorford as bridal fathers, and the bridegrooms, Lord Archer and Lord George–all travel to London this very week to deliver the royal decree thanks,issue Prince John’s invitation, and to broker the new betrothal’s with Prince John. Meanwhile, the ladies are conducting planning in earnest with seamstresses for wedding gowns and bridal attendants–the two other Havorford sisters who will descend upon them for Lady Mary, and Lady Roseanna for Lady Saline. All is organized pandemonium.
So, the men are actually quite pleased to be out from under direct wedding planning and the inevitable husbandly and soon to be husbands’ patience that is so required of them at such trying times. Their two day journey to London by carriage for Sir Guy and Lords Talkington and Havorford allow them time to become better acquainted. As is the case for Lord George and Lord Archer riding their mounts along side.
As London looms upon the horizon, both bridegrooms realize the import of what they hope to do–negotiate with Prince John for the brides of their choice and lessening the pain of Prince John’s dowry marriage tax for their brides’ fathers.
Lord Archer: Lord Archer notices Lord George shifting around on his saddle. “Are you comfortable, George? Should we stop and allow you to ride in the carriage the rest of the way.” He asks solicitously. For just as he has learned the benefit of having his brother Sir Guy as his ally and friend, so too does Lord Archer welcome the growing respect that he and Lord George have for one another.
Lord George: “Oh, I will be alright. It’s this blasted arm! No amount of adjusting it in the sling will ease it from being jostled on my horse–or riding in the carriage, which is often worse.” He shakes his head.
Lord Archer: “I am sorry to hear that you suffer so. Perhaps a warm bath when we arrive will soothe your arm and ease your pain.” He suggests helpfully.
Lord George: “Yes.” He says contemplatively.
Lord Archer: “George?” For they are both on a first name basis as extended family members. “Is there something else. You seem troubled. Is it about our hope to gain Prince John’s favor and agreement for the changed betrothals?”
Lord George: “Yes … and no.” He says cryptically as he purses his lips in worry.
Lord Archer: “So indecisive, that is not like you.”
Lord George: He looks over at Archer sitting tall in his saddle, using both hands on his reins–something Lord George cannot do. “I just feel …” He stops, really too embarrassed to be thinking about the subject–let alone about to broach it with another man.
Lord Archer: “Well you better come out with it man, or we will be entering the gates of town and then no privacy will be afforded us from there on in.”
Lord George: “Not having the use of my arm is very limiting to me.” Lord Archer nods his head but says nothing–having picked up on his brother Sir Guy’s way of drawing people out by making them abhor a silence. “Lady Mary is very understanding about it–she is an absolute angel.” He sighs.
Lord Archer: “You are most fortunate to have her sympathy in that regard. But you have adapted well to your circumstances. And I notice that Lady Mary adroitly cuts up your meat for you as needed–relishing in that small intimacy her relationship with you affords her.”
Lord George: “Ah! You see, you have come to my point without me having to state it.” He smiles ruefully.
Lord Archer: “What point?” He looks at Lord George quizzically.
Lord George: Then Lord George continues delicately, blushing at what he is about to say when his intended’s father is riding in an enclosed carriage not ten feet away. “As husband and wife, Lady Mary and I will share a close communion with each other.”
Lord Archer: “Ah! Now we come to my area of expertise–apart from defrauding Prince John of course, Ha!–being an adoring lover. Go ahead, ask me anything you want to know.” He grins sarcastically–making fun of himself. Lord George hesitates. Then Lord Archer wonders. “How old are you, George?”
Lord George: “I am three and twenty this year.”
Lord Archer: “And you were with King Richard and the crusades for about three years?” Lord George nods. “So are you trying to tell me that your devotion to god and king precluded your sampling any lady’s charms?” Lord Archer looks at Lord George sideways–wondering if Lord George is a virgin. And Lord Archer’s previous thinking that he would not have to give a romance talk for at least fourteen years or more when his own sons might need it, might be coming sooner than he might have thought.
Lord George: “Oh no!” He says quickly. He lowers his head and his voice. “Long before then, some friends and I went out carousing in town on a week’s visit without my parents–and I became a man.” He says sotto voce.
Lord Archer: “Oh ho! Ha ha ha ha ha!” Then it occurs to him. “Just one week?” He asks with a strenuously raised eyebrow.
Lord George: “Yes.” He nods his head once in affirmation. “But it was very educational.” He juts out his chin a bit.
Lord Archer: “I am sure it was.” Lord Archer tries to hide his smirk. Until he became Lord Archer, he had not gone a week–let alone more than a few days–without female companionship. But since Lord Archer met Lady Saline several months ago, his heart has only had room in it for her. “So what is your concern?”
Lord George: “Archer, …” He rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “My arm has no strength in it.”
Lord Archer: “This we know.” He says a bit impatiently for Lord George to get to his point.
Lord George: “Kkkhh!” He coughs. “My arm will not … support me … when I …” He raises his eye brows.
Lord Archer: “Ah ha!” He intones in understanding. “Not to worry, George. All will be well.”
For the remainder of their ride into town–London–Lord Archer proceeds to further educate Lord George about the finer points of adapting his lovemaking technique for his current situation. With Lord Archer’s suggestions and assurances, Lord George feels a burden has been lifted from his shoulders. And with the two bridegrooms having shared such confidences, they are growing in their familial feelings for one another.
After being ensconced in the Middleton Apartments at the Palace–it seems that Prince John still retained them as such, despite being shunned by his cousin Lady Roseanna for almost killing her husband, Sir Guy, last year–each Lord Bridal Father ends up sharing a room with his soon to be son-in-law, and Sir Guy sleeps on a pallet in the sitting room. The quarters are close. But they will not have to stay but a few days if they succeed in their plan.
The following morning, they are feeling more refreshed after their two day journey and eager to have a private audience with Prince John. Feeling in a festive mood with the Havorford dowry soon to drop a sizable marriage tax profit into his lap, Prince John agrees to meet with the five men in his small throne room that can accommodate thirty people standing–because the only seat in the room is Prince John’s throne. Unfortunately, Sir Jasper is also lurking about watching the proceedings disdainfully.
Prince John: “Gentleman!” Prince John [(2) right] gives them one of his contrived smiles as they bow before him. “Has France invaded, and that is why you are all here? Are you preparing to take up arms for your country? Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Lord George: “No Sire.” Lord George tilts his head. Then he gestures to his arm in a sling. “I fear that my soldiering days are behind me. I am your cousin, Lord George Middleton.” He states benignly.
Prince John: “Georgie, though we have not seen each other for over three years, you have not changed that much. Sorry about your arm. Terrible business war, it cripples our nation as King Richard bleeds us dry for monies to sponsor his crusades.” He swishes his hand in the air and rolls his eyes–and then makes a pointed glance over at Sir Jasper who nods.
Lord George: “I bring you greetings from your brother, Sire. He asked me to remember him to you.”
Prince John: “Oh? Did he mention anything in particular?”
Lord George: “Not really, he mentioned looking forward to seeing his dogs when he returns home.” He shrugs his shoulders. Well, Lord George couldn’t exactly tell Prince John that King Richard said that he would like to teach his brother a lesson by … Of course some things should be left unsaid–and unwritten–especially where royal brothers are concerned.
Prince John: “He always did like his dogs better than anyone.” He sneers. Then he looks at Sir Guy. “Well Gisborne, I hear that Seth is enjoying his new royal puppy.” He smiles.
Sir Guy: “Yes Sire. Seth could not be happier with any other gift in the world. Thank you.” Prince John nods his head. Of course, Lord Archer won Seth’s dog from Prince John in a wager. But that is splitting hairs. “You know that Seth calls his dog, Prince, in your honor.” He says with unaccustomed flattery.
Lord Archer: Lord Archer leans over to his brother, Sir Guy, and says in a falsetto whisper imitating Seth with a mischievous smile. “Prince John has pretty shoes.”
Sir Guy does not change his facial expression. He simply puts his hand on his sword hilt and deftly pokes Lord Archer with the other end of his sword. Lord Archer blanches, but gets Sir Guy’s point–about maintaining decorum in front of Prince John.
Prince John: “I look forward to seeing Seth playing with his dog, Prince, when I come for the weddings.”
Sir Guy: “And we will be honored to have you join us.” Then he hands the scrolled missive he brought from home. “My Lady Rose and I are so grateful for your royal decree on Seth’s behalf, this note is but a small measure of our thanks to you.”
Prince John: “Thank you.” Prince John hands the unopened scroll to Sir Jasper, who pats it against his palm proprietarly.
Sir Guy: Seeing that Prince John is not going to read their carefully crafted note now–if ever–Sir Guy continues with the rest of its contents. “My Lady Rose and I also invite you to join us the week before the weddings are to take place, for private family gatherings.” He says respectfully and sincerely–he practiced that bit with his wife before he left, the sincerity.
Prince John: “I am touched that you would include me.” He turns to Jasper. “Jasper, what are we doing the week of the wedding?” Sir Jasper starts to answer, but Prince John cuts him off. “Just cancel whatever it is. A family gathering is a rare treat for me these days–since my only family has removed themselves to their estates in Leicester.” Prince John pointedly grimaces at Sir Guy.
Sir Guy: “And we are sad not to be at court, Sire. But our children are only young once, so the countryside where they may run and play is where we live for now. Perhaps when they are older and can appreciate the benefit of being at court, we might endeavor to visit London now and again.” He tries to say with utmost grace and vagueness–since Sir Guy has no intention whatsoever of moving his family to London until King Richard is back on the throne. And maybe, not even then. Sir Guy is done with intrigues–except for the betrothals and the Nottingham treasure. Sighhhh!
Lord George: “When you come for the weddings, you will actually be staying at Middleton Hall, since we have rooms available to accommodate you and a small retinue.”
Sir Guy: “Our home, Middleton Manor, is currently hosting the brides’ families–represented here by Lord Talkington and Lord Havorford.” He introduces themto Prince John and they bow.
Prince John: “Yes. I would have thought that all wedding planning would be in such fevered preparations that you would not have time to come to London.” He looks quizzically at the five men standing in front of him.
Sir Guy: “Normally, that would be the case. But we have a private family matter that we would discuss with you and gain your wisdom about.” Sir Guy oozes charm–however much it is annoying him to have to do so toward Prince John. Well, Prince John did try to have Sir Guy killed last year–several times. Him, Sir Guy does not like–as Little John would phrase it.
Prince John: Looking over his shoulder to Sir Jasper, he tosses him a dismissing wave. “Alright Jasper, that means you’re not invited. Pray leave us for this private family conversation.”
Sir Jasper: “Sire” Knowing when to object to his Prince–rarely–and when not, Sir Jasper bows and quits the room.
All who remain in the throne room are Prince John and the Gisborne, Locksley, Middleton, Talkington,and Havorford gentleman.
Sir Guy: “Thank you, Prince John. The reason we seek your advice is in regard to the weddings.”
Prince John: “Oh? You are not calling either of them off, are you? Ha !” He jests, then he sees the sober faces of the men in front of him. “Gentleman, you look so glum. Pray tell me what is the matter and I will fix it for you.” He says both facetiously and arrogantly.
Both fathers of the brides step forward.
Lord Talkington: “Sire, you will recall that the betrothal of my daughter, the Lady Saline, to Lord George has been contracted for ten years now?”
Prince John: “Yes, pity that.” He is referring to his inability to tax her dowry since the betrothal occurred before he became Regent.
Lord Havorford: “And as you know, my daughter Lady Mary was only recently betrothed to Lord Archer.”
Prince John: “Yes!” He smiles, because Prince John is able to tax her dowry. Then he notices the configuration of the men standing before him–Lord Talkington, Lord Archer, Sir Guy, Lord George, and Lord Havorford. “Why are not the bridegrooms standing next to their soon to be fathers-in-laws?”
Sir Guy: “Ah! Perceptive as always, my liege.” He nods with a practiced air. “It seems that with Lord George’s return and Lady Mary staying in our home, they have gotten to know and admire each other.”
Lord George: “Johnny, I wish to marry Lady Mary. I love her.” He boldly declares, hoping that his cousin will take pity on them and agree.
Prince John: “My my! That is a strange turn of events. If I didn’t already know that you hurt your arm in the crusades, I might think you had injured it when Lord Archer challenged you to a duel. Such as it is, Lord Archer probably took pity on you and did not call you out.”
Lord Archer: “There was no need, Sire. For I am in love with Lady Saline and wish to marry her.”
Prince John: Prince John looks back and forth between the men in front of him. “And what of the ladies in question? Do they wish to change their affections to new bridegrooms?”
Sir Guy: “They already have, Sire. That is why we have Lords Talkington and Havorford here–to verify their daughters’ and their own willingness to set aside the original betrothal contracts in favor of these new betrothals.
Prince John: “Set aside?”
Lords Talkington and Havorford: “Yes.”
All five of them wait expectantly for Prince John to make the next move–which they hope to parry.
Prince John: “Hmmm.” The wheels are turning in his mind. “Hmmm.” Well, maybe not turning, so much as nudging forward. “Ah!” At last. “And what of the expected dowries?” He smiles.
Lord Havorford: “Lord George has agreed to accept the arrangement we had with Lord Archer–that of 20,000 pounds, of which 2,000 pounds will be given in tribute to the crown as previously agreed upon.” Meaning, 2,000 pounds to Prince John.
Prince John: “That is satisfactory.” Prince John nods his head. “But seriously, Georgie, you must really love Lady Mary if you will take her for so little.”
Lord George: “I do, Johnny. And with the hell that I have been in the past two years–that I will never forget due to my lame arm–my Lady Mary is an angel beyond compare.” He sighs romantically.
Prince John: “Hmm! Besotted.” He smiles. “And you, Lord Talkington? Will Lady Saline’s dowry of 50,000 pounds also be transferred–this time to Lord Archer?” He smiles, gleeful at now being able to tax the Talkington dowry.
Lord Archer: “50,000 pounds!?!” He exclaims in surprise.
Sir Guy: He interjects. “Archer was even less fastidious than George–by Archer actually failing to inquire about Lady Saline’s dowry size, his love for her is so deep.” A little honesty doesn’t hurt, feels Sir Guy.
Prince John: “Well, Lord Talkington? Will the dowry be transferred with 5,000 pounds being remitted to the crown?”
Lord Talkington: “Not quite, Sire.”
Prince John: “Oh?” He looks askance between Lord Talkington and Lord Archer.
Sir Guy: Having been silent during the delicate dowry talks, he speaks. “There has been a development in that regard. Lord Talkington?”
Lord Talkington: “Lady Saline’s dowry is only 50,000 pounds if she is our only daughter.”
Prince John: “And that she is.”
Lord Talkington: “Otherwise, two daughters would share the dowry–each having 25,000 pounds.” He smiles. “I am pleased to say that my wife and I are expecting a child in the new year.” He beams.
Prince John: “Is this with your current wife?” Sir Guy and Lord Archer grimace at the supposed insult to Lady Talkington.
Lord Talkington: “Of course, Sire!” He rolls his eyes indignantly. “My lady wife is only 36 years old.”
Prince John: “But you have not had other children in the 18 years since Lady Saline’s birth.” He gestures toward him.
Lord Talkington: “I can not explain it. We leave these things in God’s hand. He is blessing us with another child and we will not question it, lest the almighty think us ungrateful.” He bows reverently.
Prince John: “So! If you have another daughter, then the marriage tax on Lady Salines 25,000 pound dowry will be 2,500 pounds.”
Lord Talkington: “Not quite.” Sir Guy and Lord Archer grimace.
Prince John: “Is that your favorite phrase, Lord Talkington?” He asks perturbedly. “Why not quite?”
Lord Talkington: “Our daughter’s betrothal to Lord George did not have a marriage tax upon it.” He states disdainfully.
Sir Guy: “With respect, Sire. Lord Talkington feels that even with this proposed new betrothal arrangement, no portion of Lady Saline’s dowry should be subject to the crown’s marriage tax.”
Lord Talkington: “It is a matter of principle, Sire. I will not accept this new betrothal without maintaining the prior dowry arrangements.”
Prince John: He points and Lord Talkington, but incredulously asks Sir Guy. “He is serious?”
Sir Guy: “I am afraid so, Sire.” Lord Archer pouts.
Prince John: “I will have to ponder this.” Of course, if Prince John would just agree to waiving the marriage tax, all would be well. But Prince John does not want to give up 2,500 or possibly 5,000 pounds. “Return to Leicester and wedding preparations. I will join you in two weeks time with my answer.”
Lord Archer and Lord George: “No! We need to know now!”
Sir Guy: “Gentleman, please.” He tries to calm the eager bridegrooms. “Sire, the banns must be said three times. Your joining us barely a week before the double wedding will not allow much time to do that. Nor time to notify guests if the weddings are cancelled.”
The prospective bridgegrooms startle as they look at Sir Guy in horror at that possibility.
Prince John: “Cancelled? I do not see the need for that. The weddings either follow the first set of betrothals or the second.” For Prince John, women are interchangeable–and most noble marriages are arranged to consolidate property and wealth, not for love. So he does not yet understand the the concerns presented here regarding the hoped for love matches.
Sir Guy: “The fathers have declared that they will not make their daughters wed against their wishes.”
Prince John: “You have my reply, I will give you my answer in two weeks time.
Lord Archer: “Might I offer a suggestion?”
Sir Guy: “Archer, I urge you not to do this.” He says through prior arrangement with his brother.
Lord Archer: “Nay Guy. I will pay Lady Saline’s marriage tax for her marrying me–be it 2,500 pounds initially, or an additional 2,500 pounds to make the total 5,000 pounds, if the Talkingtons bear a son.”
Prince John: “Husbands paying their wives dowries? That is unheard of!”
Sir Guy: “Well, it is certainly novel.” He sheepishly shrugs his shoulders, keeping a watchful eye on Prince John’s reactions.
Prince John: “And where are you getting this money, Lord Archer?” He asks suspiciously. “Have you found the Nottingham treasure after all?”
Lord Archer: With the practiced air of a skilled con man, he says. “No, Sire. It’s location still eludes us–if it even existed at all.” He plants a seed of doubt.
Prince John: “No Nottingham treasure? That is impossible!”
Sir Guy: “Well, Sheriff Vasey was paying the Black Knights a lot of money to … well, you know.” He does not want to give any details in front of the fathers, nor Lord George–because it involves Sir Guy’s own nefarious past. “I am of the opinion that there might be very little left now.”
Prince John: “That still does not answer my question. Where is Lord Archer getting the money to pay me?” Prince John drops all pretense of the marriage tax going into the crown coffers. Prince John looks at Sir Guy and then at Lord Archer.
Lord Archer: Lord Archer dissembles. “Sire, I have received some Locksley and Huntington estate rents in the past year. Coupled with a booming harvest, I have just enough to pay you the 2,500 pounds. And in the next year, if need be, I hope to be able to pay you the remaining 2,500 pounds.
Prince John: “It is irregular.” He looks askance.
Sir Guy: “And the banns?” He holds his hand out to him.
Prince John: “Have the banns said both ways, that way you will be prepared either way.”
Sir Guy: “But the brides also do not wish to marry according to their first betrothal partners.”
Prince John: “Women’s views are of little consequence. The purpose of noble brides is for the getting of heirs. I am sure that these bridegrooms will treat their wives with the appropriate deference, whichever bride they end up with.”
Lord George and Lord Archer: “But Johnny!” “But Sire!”
Prince John: “Enough! My head hurts with all of this talking. I will see you in two weeks.” He waves them away.
The five men–Lord Talkington and Lord Archer, Sir Guy, and Lord George and Lord Havorford–bow and exit the room. They made their pitch, they even sweetened the pot. Now they must wait.
Sir Jasper: Sir Jasper reenters the throne room after the others leave it. Prince John motions him forward. “Sire?”
Prince John: “I will be traveling to my cousin Lord George’s estate in Leicester in two weeks for the family festivities before the double weddings. Before then, I want you to make inquiries in and around Nottingham–about the rebuilding, about Lord Archer, and see if you can find that treasure.”
Sir Jasper: “When I was there last, the people were not willing to talk.” He raises an expertly trimmed eye brow and tilts his head.
Prince John: “Then be persuasive!” Prince John glares at Sir Jasper. “I want that Nottingham treasure. And you will be handsomely rewarded for your service. How does Lord Jasper sound?” He muses.
Sir Jasper: He straightens up. “I will be honored, my liege. I will leave for Nottingham tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, the five men–Lords Talkington and Havorford, Lord Archer and Lord George, and Sir Guy return to the Middleton Apartments to debrief–all feeling that they have done the best they could. And they decide to return to Leicester on the morrow. Spending one night under Prince John’s roof will be enough for all of them. They are eager to return to their ladies. But returning home will be a two day journey–and with no concrete answers to give their ladies. But tonight, they still have to put on their happy faces at a banquet hosted by Prince John.
Having enjoyed the hospitality of Prince John at lavish banquet at their evening meal, Sir Guy and his companions also reconnected with their other friends at the palace–as well as attended to palace servant mutterings about readying Sir Jasper for a hurried trip to Nottingham. They quickly discover Sir Jasper’s purpose and fear for the people of Nottingham–Sir Jasper and Prince John not worrying about the welfare of the peasantry, nor worrying about inflicting pain and suffering on them through means of torture.
But it is Sir Guy, who devises a devious plan to thwart Sir Jasper and Prince John–in their goal of uncovering the Nottingham Treasure. Guy and Archer decide that they have to let Prince John find and keep part of the $150,000 pound treasure to get him off Archer’s back. But how to do that without getting caught in their own lies and deceit is the tricky part? So they decide to enlist Prince’s John’s toady sycophant Sir Jasper as their unwitting accomplice–with Sir Guy also hoping to rid himself of Sir Jasper for good.
The next day, morning dawns brightly. And everyone is up early to give chase and to mislead. While Lords Talkington and Havorford and Lord George head straight for Leicester and wedding planning–to inform the ladies of the developments–Lord Archer and Sir Guy head back to Nottingham, ahead of Sir Jasper. Once at Locksley two days later, Sir Guy and Lord Archer meet with Brother Tuck, Little John, Much, and Kate–informing them of Sir Jasper’s intent to torture the peoples to findout negative information about Lord Archer and Sir Guy, and Prince John’s goal–of finding the Nottingham treasure.
So once again, a treasure found in Nottingham is distributed amongst the peoples–more than 20,000 pounds, while retaining 5,000 pounds stays at Locksley Manor. It is this that will act as the bait for their trap for Sir Jasper. Sir Guy also gives Kate a vial of a sleeping draught from Althea the healer woman that he had thought to bring with him.
The stage is set as they all wait at Much’s tavern at the end of the afternoon. Sir Guy and Lord Archer are sitting behind a fabric curtain, but able to peer out into the main tavern eating and drinking area. In walks Sir Jasper with an air of superiority and superciliousness that none could equal. He hands his gloves and cape–yes, he is wearing a cape–to his attendant. One would almost think he is putting on airs as if he were Prince John.
Kate: “My lord.” She curtsies and bats her eyelashes at him. “Might I interest you in some meat pies and drink?” She says hawking their wares–including the meat pies– with her bodice becomingly showcasing her charms.
Sir Jasper: He disdainfully leans away from her bodice thrust into his face. “What kind of meat?”
Kate: “Only the finest. I plucked the chicken myself just this morning.” She licks her lips lasciviously. But he isn’t biting.
Sir Jasper: “That will do.” He nods curtly.
Plan B, if Sir Jasper can not be lured to a bed chamber for supposed elicit encounter with Kate–and drugged, etc.–then the sleeping draught will have to be put into the meat pies. Happily, Sir Jasper is not as suspicious as Sir Guy and he eats his meat pie heartily–drinking down the ale as well. About 30 minutes later, Sir Jasper is slumped unconscious over his trencher, having only eaten half of his meat pie.
Much and Little John quickly carry Sir Jasper up the stairs to a bed chamber above the tavern. Then they remove his tunic and shirt. Lord Archer uses semi-permanent ink to draw a crown with a cross through it next to Prince John’s coat of arms. Then they redress him and bundle him back into his carriage accompanied by Brother Tuck–to lend an air of credulity to this fraud–and 2,500 pounds of the Nottingham treasure in its box, inside one of Sir Jasper’s clothing trunks.
Brother Tuck keeps Sir Jasper sedated for most of their two day trip to London. When they arrive at the palace, Sir Jasper is carried on litter–with him believed to be drunk–to his rooms, with his suit cases and trunk following. Meanwhile, Brother Tuck begs an audience with Prince John to speak about some meaningless contrived matter. Then Brother Tuck lets slip that he accompanied a seemingly drunk Sir Jasper back to the Palace in London–and that Sir Jasper’s clothing trunk seemed rather heavy if it only had clothes in it.
Prince John follows Br. Tuck back to Sir Jasper’s apartments and they find him just sitting up on his bed.
Sir Jasper: “Ow! My head hurts.” He clasps his hands to his head.
Prince John: “Then you should not drink so much! Certainly not when you are on a commission for me! What did you learn?”
Sir Jasper: “I can not remember.” He shakes his head–trying to loosen the cob webs.
Br. Tuck: “If I may interject, Sir Jasper.” Sir Jasper nods. “Sir Jasper spent only one night with us before returning.” He rolls his eyes as if to convey a modicum of debauchery when on.
Prince Johns: “Good god, man. You were supposed to make them talk, not make them squeal.” Just then, Prince John spies something on Sir Jasper’s chest through his slightly open shirt. “Take off your shirt.”
Sir Jasper: “What?” Prince John stares at him. Sir Jasper removes his shirt and they see the tattoo.
Prince John: “What the hell is that supposed to be!?!” He explodes with anger as he points to the markings on Sir Jasper’s chest.
Sir Jasper: He sputters, not being able to read what it is upside down. “I do not know. Br. Tuck. How came this to be here?”
Br. Tuck: “My son, I can not breach your confession. “ Technically, Br. Tuck is not lying–he is speaking in generalities. “But let me get you a fresh shirt to cover yourself with. Br. Tuck opens the clothing trunk and removes some clothes from the top. He finds the treasure chest stashed there–as he knew he would. Because Br. Tuck put it there. “What is this?” He points to the chest. “It has Lord Archer’s crest on it. I think this this is the chest Lord Archer earmarked for the crown’s tribute monies for the marriage contract if he needs it. But what is it doing hidden in your clothing trunk?
Sir Jasper: “I do not know. This is not right?” He stares in horror at the trunk.
Prince John: “I agree. Guards!” And Prince John has Sir Jasper hauled away to meet his fate–all the while protesting his innocence.
Br. Tuck thinks, mission accomplished.
Br.Tuck: But not wanting his actions to be the cause of another’s death, he pleads for mercy. “Sire, I do not think this situation is all that it appears. It could very well be that Sir Jasper was bringing you the dowry monies–when he became ill with the drink. “But, I fear that I must leave you, Sire, to attend to details of Lord Archer’s wedding.” Prince John nods. Sir Jasper will live
For in two weeks time, all will be converging on the Middleton Estates in Leicester for the double wedding of Lord Archer and Lady Saline, and Lord George and Lady Mary.
To be concluded with Chapter 23 (On Sunday, March 3, 2013)
(1) “Guy’s Dilemma” logo is a composite of three images:
a) Sir Guy (portrayed by Richard Armitage) in the BBC’s Robin Hood, Series 3, episode 13 (pix 64).and is found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/Episodethirteen/slides/13_064.html;
b) Image of Lord Archer (portrayed by Clive Standen) http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/episodetwelve/slides/12_093.html;
c) a sword hilt from MS Office Clip Art was found at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=sword&ex=1#ai:MP900432917|
2) Prince John image is portrayed by Toby Stephens (cropped from an image with Sheriff Vasey and Sir Guy) in the BBC’s Robin Hood, Series 3, episode (Pix #94) found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/Episodesix/slides/ep6_0094.JPG
P.S. Okay, This story will really conclude on Sunday, March 3rd. Ha!
Previous chapter installments, Ch 21: